Comfort and sport-utility vehicles don’t usually go together owing to the inherent build of an SUV and the purpose it was built for. However, there are buyers looking for an SUV which offers the most comfort as well.
CarToq takes a look at SUVs across price ranges that offer the most relative comfort. This is in terms of ride quality and perceived passenger comfort, rather than handling. We’re also not including MUVs such as the Toyota Innova or crossovers such as the Tata Aria, which also has the perception of an MUV rather than an SUV.
SUVs below Rs. 10 lakh
If you take a look at SUVs below Rs. 10 lakh, there are a handful on offer. We can straight away rule out the Mahindra Thar and Maruti Gypsy, as they are purpose-built off-roaders and not great in terms of comfort for passengers. In contention, we have the Premier Rio, Mahindra Bolero, Mahindra Scorpio and Renault Duster.
The Tata Safari may not be a great SUV to drive, but for passengers it is a pretty comfortable vehicle to travel in. The large cabin area gives passengers a feeling of space and there is enough legroom and shoulder room in the middle row. The downside to the Safari is the jump seats in the last row and the fairly pronounced body roll when driven at speed. But if one chooses to just cruise on the highway, the multi-link rear suspension and double-wishbone torsion bar front suspension soak up the bumps quite effectively. The Safari is much better than the Mahindra Scorpio in terms of ride quality, with only the Renault Duster coming a close second.
The second most-comfortable SUV below Rs. 10 lakh has got to be the Renault Duster as it has excellent ride quality. Built on a car platform (the Renault Logan), but with raised ground clearance and a monocoque body, the vehicle has excellent passenger comfort. Where it loses out on is leg space for passengers in the rear seat, where it is just about average. The Duster has a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs, while the front is independent McPherson struts. In terms of ride comfort the Duster one of the best to travel in.
Between Rs. 10 lakh – Rs. 18 lakh
If you look at SUVs between Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 18 lakh, besides the top-end variants of the Tata Safari and the Mahindra Scorpio, you also have the Force One, Mahindra XUV500, Grand Vitara and Skoda Yeti. The XUV500, Skoda Yeti and Grand Vitara all have independent rear suspension, which is great for ride quality.
The Skoda Yeti has one of the most sorted suspension systems, with excellent ride quality and handling. Built on car-like monocoque platform, the Yeti does not have any body roll and has a very pliant ride that could give some cars a run for their money. The only downside with the Yeti is that it does not have much luggage space and just about Ok on legroom in the rear seat for two occupants. A third would be a bit of a squeeze. Yet, the Yeti is one of the best vehicles to travel in for its silent, comfortable and composed ride. The Yeti is a five seater only, comfortable for four only.
The Force One is a really large SUV with a long wheelbase. And it’s this long wheelbase that translates into good passenger comfort too. It has a multi-link rear suspension system that has been tuned by Lotus. The Force One has a traditional body on ladder-frame chassis construction. There is plenty of legroom in all three rows of seats, with either seven or six seat options. The six-seater is more comfortable as it has individual bucket seats in each row.
The other contenders such as the Grand Vitara and Mahindra XUV500 come close, but aren’t that comfortable. The Vitara has a sporty suspension system that’s slightly stiff, while the XUV500 has a stiff suspension system that tends to pitch about a bit.
SUVS between Rs. 18 lakh and Rs. 25 lakh
When you pick the premium SUV range, things get interesting. The most popular SUV in this segment is the Toyota Fortuner, but it is not the most comfortable. The sportiest of the lot is the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, which again is not comfortable. Then one is left to choose between the Renault Koleos, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Chevrolet Captiva, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Endeavour.
The Renault Koleos is by far one of the most comfortable SUVs around. It has excellent ride quality and its monocoque chassis, large wheels and good ground clearance contribute to its planted ride. The Koleos and the Nissan X-Trail share a lot of components, based on the same platform. However, the Koleos has a better ride than the X-Trail, with good space for five occupants and about 450 litres of luggage space.
An old-time favorite of this segment is the Honda CR-V. This 5-seater SUV has a car-like ride quality with a well-sorted suspension system that proves effortless and comfortable for long distance travel. The CR-V’s suspension is slightly on the softer side and it is nice to travel in, be it the city or on the highway. It also has adequate luggage carrying capability.
A close third place would go to the Chevrolet Captiva if you are looking for a seven-seater SUV. This can carry seven people in comfort and matches the CR-V in terms of ride quality, except for slightly reduced legroom.
Along with the Captiva it’s also a close call between the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Mitsubishi Outlander, again two SUVs that provide good ride quality and comfort to passengers.
These were the SUVs that emerged as the ones offering the most comfort, after a discussion between a panel of CarToq experts. Share your thoughts on this.